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The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
13th March 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland


English prog rock outfit Karnataka are nothing if not persistent. From their formation in 1997 they worked hard to build their profile and seemed to be on the edge of moving up to a new level when it all imploded in 2004 in a split fuelled by the classic personal differences scenario.

Founder member Ian Jones was left alone to take the band onward into a new era and after basically starting from scratch again a new line up and revitalised sound is getting them noticed again.

Tonight's show in the comparatively upscale surroundings of Edinburgh's Voodoo Rooms Ballroom is in support of the first album they have recorded with the current line up, 'Secrets Of Angels'. On the day of the show the album wasn't officially released yet and in what could be looked at as either a very brave move or a foolhardy one they played every song from the new album through the two halves of their near two hour set.

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This is singer Hayley Griffith's second tour with the band and she has settled in well to her frontwoman role. She confidently held the audience's attention centre stage and was able to carry off the aloof and dramatic tones some of the material requires but also managed to engage with the fans in front of her especially when they played pre 'Secrets Of Angels' material like 'Your World'.

The rest of the band are a progressive rock United Nations now with Italian Enrico Pinna on guitar, Turkish keyboard player Cagri Tozluoglu and French drummer Jimmy Pallagrossi joining the Welsh bass man Jones. There is certainly no issue with international cohesion here as they are all totally on point and impressively fluid through some complex material.


The band seem to me to have moved away from the occasional Celtic overtones I heard in their previous incarnations. Now, despite Griffiths currently being the only English born member they play what you might say is a quintessentially English kind of overtly melodic prog rock infused with touches of heavy rock (rather than Metal) or classical stylings in places.

Tonight's set was divided into two halves and as often happens the first half came across as a little understated despite some nice sub-Zeppelin moments in 'Road To Cairo' and a well received rendition of the title track from 'The Gathering Light'.

When they band returned for part two there was an immediately more urgent feel to proceedings from the opening bars to 'Poison Ivy' which made me wonder if bands' get psyched out in general when they have a set of two halves on their mind. Any doubts were swept away though as the band powered through a sequence of songs only one of which was not from 'Secrets Of Angels'.

Ms Griffith's comes from a classical background but she can certainly hold her own as a rock singer when required. She can sing soprano too though and when the new songs chose to use that part of her vocal range I felt that added some major quality to the atmospherics and dynamics of the Karnataka sound.


Showing total confidence in their new material the set closer was the twenty minute epic that is the latest album's title track and it sounded great. This daring move was warmly received by what was admittedly an audience mostly filled with die hard fans. An encore was demanded and surprisingly they turned again to the new album with the folky and feel good 'Feels Like Home' to end the night.

This was a brave performance from a band with a long history but with their eyes firmly on the future and in front of the fans who know them well it really worked. 'Secrets Of Angels' sounds like an album which could make some ripples in progressive rock circles and I hope that it helps the band to reclaim any old fans they lost and add some new ones.

I guess the saying is right, progressive rock music never dies - it just goes on and on and on...


Line up:
Ian Jones - bass, acoustic guitars, keyboards
Enrico Pinna - guitars
Hayley Griffiths - lead vocals
Cagri Tozluoglu - keyboards
Jimmy Pallagrosi - drums, percussion



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